Twitter is doing a little experiment with its time line, and people on Twitter are freaking out.
Some people have seen tweets that are favorited by friends show up in their timeline.
If you’re not familiar with the ins and outs of Twitter, here’s what that means. On Twitter, there are a few core things you can do. You can tweet, which is expressing yourself. You can retweet, which just sends out someone else’s message to your followers. You can reply, which is answering someone. And you can favourite, which is hitting the little star on a tweet.
Of those actions, the favourite is the least clearly defined. For some people, it’s a way of saying, “Cool tweet dude!” For others, it’s a way to bookmark a link or a tweet for later reference. For some other people, it’s like a head nod, or an acknowledgment. It’s a way of saying, “I see your tweet, though there is no need for me to reply.”
Another thing about favourites: They feel the most private of all the aforementioned actions. Until now, they were hard to see by outsiders.
As a result of the favourite being so unclear of meaning, and so inherently personal/private people are a bit panicked that their favourites are going to start populating into people’s feeds.
Here’s the thing, though. Twitter is always experimenting with Twitter. It always tests things in small batches to see how people react. If it doesn’t make sense, Twitter kills it and that’s that.
The reaction to this experiment is important for Twitter as a company overall. Earlier this year, we spoke with a source familiar with the company. Our source said Twitter’s management thinks Twitter could be so much better, but “they think that it’s limited and they don’t know how to navigate to the new thing without breaking the old thing.”
In other words, Twitter can be too cautious with its product because it doesn’t want to upset the vocal minority of users who think something as small as inserting favorited tweets into the timeline will destroy what Twitter built.
For what it’s worth, it looks like Twitter employees are sticking up for themselves and this experiment on Twitter:
Always fun to see innovators express aversion to change. Typical response, “Well, because it’s the WRONG change, obviously.” Obviously.
— Trevor O’Brien (@tmobrien) August 17, 2014
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